Wednesday, 16 July 2014


I was awoken this morning at seven-forty-five by my roomie colleague telling me that it was time to go and get breakfast before I reminded him that I had a day off today but I would be pleased to go and have breakfast. Of course, I didn't; I promptly fell back asleep and didn't get up again until ten. Torn between feelings such as "I should just stay here in bed all day" and "you are a lazy bum, get your arse outside" and "oh dear Glod, I'm bored already", I ventured out into the wilds with no particular plan in mind.

I ate too much in Pret before going and drinking too much milkshake and then realised that I ought to be getting stuff that I thought may be useful in a somewhat bizarre set of circumstances. I needed, I convinced myself, swimming trunks, as I don't have any and I might at some point go swimming while I'm here. I don't plan to, but it would be nice to have some trunks just in case the opportunity arises.

This is how my brain works.

I wandered around for far too long before noticing there was a TK Maxx about ten metres from where I was standing. Venturing in, I found myself temporarily blinded by colourful overstocks and things nobody in their right mind would pay for - before reminding myself that that is, indeed, the whole point of TK Maxx. Finding my way to the menswear department, I accosted a member of staff to ask if they had swimwear. He directed me.

"Thanks, dude," I said, giving a thumbs-up.

Dude? I actually just called someone "dude" in the summer of 2014? Someone I don't know? Who works in a shop in the place I'm not even from? And I called him "dude"?! What the fuck's wrong with me?

I bought the cheapest pair of trunks I could find - blue - and ran out of the shop before anyone noticed me there. I even had to dip into WH Smith to regain my equilibrium... and, while I was there, I decided to buy something else.

After trying and failing to access any sex blogs on the Kobo display, I chanced upon some portable speakers - this was a product that I actually did (and still do) need for work and had neglected to get so far - because I am, as has been said, a lazy bum. I chose the cheapest type again - blue - and waltzed up to the girl at the checkout, forcing my face into a grimace that may at some point have resembled an ingratiating smile.

"Hi hi hiya!" I trilled.
Stony face.
"I'd like to get this, please!"
Stony face.
"Uhm... very hot today, isn't it?"
Stony face.
"You know, I've been looking for these everywhere! It's good that you have them here!"
Stony face.
Extends hand, takes my speaker in a vice-like grip.
"Thanks! How much?"
No response.
"I'll pay by card, right?"
No visible emotions.
"Okay, here's my PIN..."
No signs of life.
"Thanks! Bye!"
Death stare.

Evidently the girls around here don't take to being flirted with the same way the waitress at the restaurant I went to at Robinson's stag weekend. Feeling more awkward than ever and aware that I'd already spent about £30, albeit mostly on food, I went to sit at the bus stop surrounded by old-age pensioners, who could all sense that the guy in his twenties listening to Rizzle Kicks with a Rocha John Rocha T-shirt and pair of Chinos probably "isn't from round 'ere".

As I got off the bus and walked back into the place I'm staying, I could feel a slight creep of confidence back into me. After all, I'd gone into town and been confronted with the Stare of Reluctant Customer Service - and called someone "dude" - and survived. I'd even stood by a living statue waiting for him to move for a while. I could do this. I don't always have to be awkward, surely?

I went up to the office to make a cup of tea.

"Hi hi hiya!" trilled a middle-management girl. "You aren't smiling in your staff photo? Can I take another one? You can smile this time!"

Stony face.

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